THE IRREPRESSIBLE SHIRTS. (And Mt Mee Ride Report)

It was meant to be 4 of us riding today but Scott accidentally got smashed. I think someone spiked his drink — and then the drink after that, and that. Staying out until 4:30am didn’t help either. And Tom had something come up – so it was just me and Shirts.

EEK

To understand the reason I say “eek” one needs to understand “Shirts”. Shirts is the hardest, fastest and most enigmatic rider I know. He is also a bit like The Batman. If a car does something evil he usually has the strength and skills to run them down and hold the driver accountable.

Shirts is called “Shirts” cause he often rides sans any attire above the waist. He explained to me once that it is part practical (keeps him cooler), part his image, and part (I suspect)  a tiny bit of vanity/intimidation thrown in there. And why not? It works for the Hulk. The Romans during their conquest of Britain would tell stories — perhaps exaggerating — of armies of NAKED Gingas attacking them, adorned with with just shields and swords, snarling and hissing like wild animals. This is kinda the vibe I think of when I think of Shirts. Cause Shirts is actually part-ginga. He may not look it – but ladies – he carries the gene. Just saying.

So back to this morning. I was suddenly faced with this massive ride — over 100km — and just us two. See I ride trying to be considerate of my fellow bikers but at the same time wanting to look just a tiny bit like I have some skills. So in the presence of such awesomeness I knew that I would smash a little too hard at the beginning because I didn’t want to feel like I was constantly holding him up and I didn’t want to be boring. But the crazy thing is that Shirts doesn’t ride like he is trying to push you faster. Usually he rides behind and out of your slipstream. He let’s you set the pace.

The other issue was that without other riders, and because I would be leading, it meant I would be pushing wind the whole time. And it should also be noted the ride was particularly “bumpy” with a not inconsiderable mountain in the middle.

So off we went. My legs felt good and MASHING is such fun. When I looked down at my Garmin at Petrie (about 30kms in) the average speed had crept up over 32km/hr and I knew I was starting to get a tiny bit tired. So I knew this kind of MASHING was not sustainable and I would be in a bit of bother towards the end of the ride. “Oh well,” I thought. “You just might FINALLY learn your lesson today.”

At Dayboro – about 45kms in – we had a quick break and an apricot bar. I said to Shirts, “If you wanna smash ahead, go for it. I’ll see you at the top.” I just remembered that I should tell you all Shirts was on a single speed bike. No gears. And his one “gear” was a pretty massive one.

So he went ahead but was halted by roadworks and only one side of the road available with that automatic traffic light system that lets traffic coming down go, then releases traffic going up. The road seemed deserted so we just kept riding but then BANG! There was a bunch of cars coming at us and I shouted CAR and smashed ahead to reach a gap in the road barriers for us to escape. Once those cars had gone we pushed on as fast as we could to where the road was two-way again.

Then Shirts was away and I settled into the strongest pace I thought was maintainable. The climb wasn’t too steep, indeed I managed to switch down a gear or two at a couple of points, and so I didn’t finish too far behind him.

Elevation profile – see if you can spot where Mt Mee is.

Back at Dayboro we had a break at the bakery. I had a sausage roll, a coffee, a can of coke and a bottle of powerade. But still my stomach felt like a black hole. When we set out again I felt a bit rubbish. Shirts was leading and we were heading into a slight, but quite demoralising headwind. The first bit of decent “up” in the road and I fell behind. Shirts then stopped and let me take the lead again. About 10kms later I felt power returning to my limbs. The food and sugar had finally reached my muscles.

So I felt reasonable and although the average speed had slipped to 29.6km/hr I was able to hold that steady all the way to Samford. We passed a bike race meet that had just wound up and suddenly all these 4WDs were passing us with massively expensive time-trail bikes on their roof or hooked to the back. I wasn’t jealous — I just rode harder. I think there’s something a tiny bit pathetic about transporting a bike in a car to/from a ride. Admittedly I do it myself every once in a while – but I feel pathetic whenever I do!

After a quick break at Samford we hit that hill towards Ferny Grove and it didn’t hurt too much. I thus managed the sustained 5km smash down and picked up my highest speed for the day – 83km/hr!

But that didn’t stop idiot cars overtaking us without giving us much room.

The next challenge was Settlement Road towards the Gap. Again it wasn’t too bad and I caught up to Shirts at Waterworks Road after a very short but fast drop drafting and overtaking cars.

At Ashgrove though, I got a big fat cramp in my right leg and had to stop and let Shirts go. I texted him saying I was fine and would limp home. Embarrassingly I had to walk up a hill at Bardon (pretty sure no one saw me but) and spin very, very slow or coast for the last 4kms. It only damaged the averages by sending it down from 29.9 to 29.7. Cool!

It was a great ride and I was proud of myself, despite my initial unbridled hyper-shirts-induced-enthusiasm. 106kms, 1450m of climbing, 29.7km/hr average speed.

Our first big overnight ride awaits in a few weeks.

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Spanish Prisoners

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I do tend to throw around the phrase, “OMG! I have a new favourite band!” quite often — and rather loosely — so don’t take me seriously. Unless I tell you to take me seriously. And then maybe just be a little wary.

So I might have a new favourite band – at least for this week – and they are called Spanish Prisoners, and I really like their album Gold Fools. It feels like an “album” — like it has atmosphere and cohesion — but all the songs seem unique. Good looking band too! Well done on both fronts.

Go and listen to this song — “November Third” from their bandcamp. DO IT!

http://spanishprisoners.bandcamp.com/track/november-third

10 photos in this day

PROLLY

As always – “10 photos in a day” is a Prolly institution I am embracing (read “stealing”). John Prolly is a fixed gear/bike blogger. My bike was featured on his blog once – which I think (without much exaggeration) is singularly the most FAME anything associated with me or myself has ever achieved.

DIFFERENT

So today I spent at home – nursing the cat. It should be known at this outset – she is a different cat. She is “apparently” lame. And I use that term rather loosely, because she has shown enormous physical skills in the last few hours just when you assume she is incapable of anything but sleeping or looking pathetic.

Thankfully she has mostly just done sleeping. She spent the initial hours of last night under our bed. But at about 2am I felt her nestling herself between my legs. She shouldn’t be jumping but I figured what’s done, is done. In the morning (with some help) she crawled back under the bed.

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I slunk out at around 11 to do shopping and I bought a “SHIT-LOAD” of ham. See, she wasn’t really interested in food unless it was ultra-yummy. She was a tiny, svelte cat already – but since the car-hit she was much, much thinner. I figured a bit of fattening up would not hurt. She scoffed it down and I was proud of her.

BORED

Meanwhile I did a bit of designing for work and once that was sorted I realised I was bored so I made this X-Wing model I had been saving up for a rainy day complete with a tiny Luke Skywalker and his weird butt-extrusion:

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After that I lay down on the bed (with the cat underneath) and got a bit tired so I fell asleep. About 20 minutes later I was awake and saw that the cat had emerged from her slumber too. She wasn’t interested in defecating, urinating or eating so I thought maybe she wanted stimulation. She wanted to be on the bed with me – so I lifted her up. I then went downstairs and used a pair of very blunt scissors to cut a very un-blunt cardboard box in half. I put down a blanket and a sheet and then carefully lifted her in.

OUTSIDE

Then we went for a bit of a walk. We didn’t wander far and she seemed quite interested. Luckily no cars went past when we were on the footpath, but once safely inside our yard I could tell she got a bit tense when a car went by.

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First timer photo:

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Second timer photo:

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REASONING

Part of the reason I was doing this was cause she was due for her next dose of drugs in an hour or 2. And at the same time she was due for a feed. But the cheat-sheet had said to give her the drugs on an empty stomach. So I wanted to distract her a bit until I could give her the pill, then give her some food a bit later.

Once the drugs had kicked in she took a liking to the couch. (Again – I helped her up)

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MAGAZINES AND TINTIN

I love magazines. I have hundreds of them, many saved from when I was a kid. I also love Tintin. Q/MOJO magazines coupled with Tintin books look quite good together – don’t you think?

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Speaking of magazines – this is the neighbourhood news from our most recently delivered “New York” magazine – one of the BEST “Neighbourhood News'” I have ever read. INCREDIBLE. New York magazine is the best periodical I have ever known — apart from my own of course! I will give you all a decent explanation of that FACT soon.

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LAST TWO PHOTOS JUST MAKING UP THE NUMBERS (BUT AWSM STILL)

I could just post a few more cat photos but instead I will show you one of the “props” we bought at the “Superhero Supply Store” in NYC. Google that.

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What Sasha did next…

This morning Dee was on her way to work and was stopped by our big, blokey neighbour from a few doors down. “OMG! How is Sasha? She is the life of our street! Can we visit her when she comes home?” he said, genuinely disturbed in an ultra-concerned way.

Meanwhile I had had to race to work to deal with stuff that had flared up – today being our union Council Meeting (a big deal).

While I was power-walking down the enormous corridor outside the Convention Centre’s exhibition rooms I rang the vet. I walked 200ms while on hold and was still about 100m from our meeting room (that’s how big this place is) before the vet came on the phone and said the cat had survived the surgery and was doing incredibly well under the circumstances. And so later today we could take the cat home. Yay!

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“MAY BITE” (lol really?)

I had missed the cat quite profoundly. I had heard her bell – or thought I had done – on numerous occasions. I had even “seen” her a few times. It was a bit like how when you start dating a girl and you start seeing her, hearing her, getting references to her – like EVERYWHERE. Her fate and her being was on my brain like that finger-alien in the movie – ALIEN.

At about 3:30pm we turned up at the UQ clinic and finalised the bill. It was an almost even $4500.

Yep. My head said, “Holy shit!?” But my heart said, “Fair enough”. In life I invariably go with my heart when it comes to choices.

Anyway. That paid we sat down with the vet and he showed us the x-rays. The “BEFORE” pictures showed her small femur shattered quite completely. It was now 4 separate pieces. The “AFTER” pictures with its 5mm wide steel rod and numerous pins and other wirey wrappings would now make the TERMINATOR jealous.

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We were given some pills to give her every evening and told she had a “nicotine patch” on her leg. But instead of nicotine it was actually “OPIUM”. I was almost jealous.

She went nuts again in the car. She howled and spun around her cage as best she could. She was shaking with fear — I was used to this — but then suddenly she was pissing everywhere. Like a huge stinky stream right in my direction. I guess her sedatives, plus even more stress, must have caused her to lose a bit of composure – plus she is a bit of a bitch.

I then started wondering if it was better if she saw the local vet for her numerous follow up vet-visits (I will investigate).

At home she was a bit calmer, but wanted to walked around. She could “walk”. Just dragging her right hind leg, but it wasn’t very dignified. I didn’t want to force her to rest so I was hyper-pleased when eventually she just laid down. I brought her food, right to her mouth – but she wasn’t interested in anything until I tried some cheese. Yum.

She ate some yoghurt too and then grew tired of food. I needed to unpack the car and do some chores so I left her there and locked up the house and ran downstairs. After hurriedly hanging out washing, unpacking the car, cleaning and sorting out her kitty litter tray, I came back upstairs to find her GONE.

I ran around the house in a PANIC searching for an exit I had somehow forgot to close. All the while I was thinking what everyone would say – “OMG! YOU FUCKING IDIOT — HOW COULD YOU LOSE A LAME CAT?”

But all exits were safely sealed. After a bit more struggling hands-and-knees investigation I found her in the darkest, most secure place of the house – underneath our bed (barely 12cms off the floor). OBVIOUSLY! PHEW!

She was asleep and oblivious to my pain and concern. I left her there and started work on her new “enclosure.”

See the vet was like ultra-serious — “You need to keep her in a room, or a cage, restrict her movements – absolutely remove anything she can jump on – and keep that so for TWO MONTHS”. Woah. I mean – “WOAH!” Dee and I looked at eachother in that “no-fucking-way-are-we-gonna-be-able-to-do-this” kinda way.

A few of you know Sash and you will know what a determined animal she is. But I set about to turn the music room into a decent-sized enclosure with a view of the backyard, heaps of natural light and space to roam, but nothing much to leap upon.

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So I dragged up an old kitchen table from downstairs – cleaned it, wrapped it in a blanket and put it on its side. At the other doorway I used an old mattress, which I taped to the wall. I made her a bed, placed her cat tray with fresh litter, I put in her food and crunchies. Then I dug her out from under the bed – while she protested quite vociferously.

She explored her new “enclosure” with obvious contempt. She managed a pee, not very accurately, in her litter. Then, as I was momentarily distracted, she leapt up and over the 1.2m “wall” I had spent about 20 minutes lovingly constructing. I desperately tried to stop her but it all happened in an instant. I could not believe she could leap so high on just one hind leg – then survive the leap down onto the wooden floor of the kitchen.

She then went straight back under our bed.

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I was then convinced – more than ever – just to let her be comfortable in the house. I would not let her out, but she could go where she pleased – inside. She’s not stupid, but she is quite aware of the impossibility of escape from the house other than her cat-door or the “human doors”. So she won’t leap up on stuff in the hope of escape. She knows that shit is futile.

I think that will help her re-habilitation. I mean doctors/vets just generalise with patients. I know Sasha, and I am prepared to be all “tough-love” – but I also know her and her mental-health is an important consideration. She is wild, she needs human attention.

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Her treats after successfully swallowing her medication.

Vince Lovegrove

Holly is an old friend of mine from primary school. Her dad died last night in a car crash. Vince had an amazing career, but also a tragic life which you can read about here.

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This is Vince in happy times with his best mate Bon Scott (who Vince introduced to a band called AC/DC)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFdGaLfPHWk

I’m so sorry for Holly and her family. If you’ve had the chance to watch “Suzi’s Story” and “A kid called troy” you will know what an amazing man he was. I saw the two films when they screened on TV, but never since. But there’s scenes that have stuck with me still. Harrowing, harrowing scenes. There’s a few clips on the internet you can look up, but I’m not sure if the whole films are available anywhere.

Vale.

Poor Sasha

Poor little Sasha got hit by a car sometime yesterday.

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Having personal experience of being hit by cars I know it’s not pleasant. But in my humble experiences I’ve never been left with broken bones and internal injuries and spent god-knows how many hours lying, hungry and in obvious agony, completely immobile (and with no real comprehension of what this means) in the dirt underneath the house next door.

She wandered out around 8:30am and when she didn’t come in for dinner I went out looking for her a few times but wasn’t too concerned. At about 8:00pm I was home alone — Dee was at the movies — and I got a call from our neighbour saying the cat was behaving strangely and was under their house. I raced over and immediately I knew she had to see a vet right away. She stank of her own shit, her paws were covered in mud and I remembered when my old cat Moochey was at death’s door, and she didn’t have the strength to clean herself.

My neighbour Julian told me he had just gone downstairs and noticed the cat lying there in the dirt meowing like she was trying to tell him something.

Picking her up she protested a little, but in my arms I could actually hear her purring. I could see no signs of blood and was pretty much convinced she had an infection – like from a possum bite.

I put her down on the kitchen floor and was about to close the bedroom door (so she couldn’t escape) but when she just collapsed into a lying position – I knew she was in no condition to move an inch – let alone the 10 metres to her cat-door.

SUPER-CRUNCHIES

I gave her some of her favourite super-crunchies (the dry-food treats) but she wasn’t interested. I looked her over again and found no injuries – no signs of bites. Cause I was a bit boozy I rang Dee’s parents and hoped one of them was right to drive. Mary-Anne was a bit pissy and I said, “Put Terry on.” Luckily Tez was sweet to drive and he said he knew where to take her – the University of Queensland emergency vet clinic.

So I got the cat-carrier out, put her in – which she hated. Just before this, she did manage to swallow a few pieces of ham – she loves ham – but then she suddenly wasn’t interested.

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Then we went outside and waited. Another neighbour came home and we had a chat. He had heard a cat fight last night and I was more convinced than ever that it was an infection. I kept thinking of how Moochey had once been bitten in the hind leg and had got an infection which had made her quite sick and required a similar late-night rush to a after-hours vet.

So Terry was here and the cat started the usual HOWLING she does when she has to travel by car. But you could tell her heart wasn’t quite in it and she actually went quiet a few times. We got stopped by a booze-bus on the way and the police officer was like, “What’s in the cage?” “A sick cat. We’re taking her to the vet.” He seemed genuinely concerned — good on him. He was a ginger which I think should be noted.

ER

At UQ we rang the bell and a tiny woman came out and ushered us in to a consultation room. She examined the cat and asked a few questions and suddenly she was saying it is almost certain that the cat has been hit by a car. I was quite shocked to hear this and I must admit got a bit teary at the realisation of what the cat had gone through, and what this all meant. The vet went on: she had a broken hip – possibly more fractures and internal injuries. Nerve damage was a possibility and because she couldn’t feel the bladder – a rupture in thatregion was a high probability. She paused at one stage and held her nose, “I’m sorry, I’m actually allergic to cats.” TRUE STORY.

I was glad at this bizarre interlude to the conversation cause I was at some risk of losing all composure. So then I concentrated hard and managed to ask a few questions but inside I was pretty upset and I am sure the vet could see my eyes were getting a bit sweaty.

I hadn’t even considered that a car might have done this. The cat has always been ultra street savvy. Indeed all the neighbours I talked to today said the same thing. Anyway – it’s an impossibly narrow street we live on and there’s plenty of leadfoots around who think the 50k speed limit is a challenge and think re-enacting the scenes where the Millennium Falcon is tearing through the asteroid field is actually a good idea in a neighbourhood street.

Anyway. I am not going to get all “blamey”. This stuff happens. I could easily just wrap myself up in cotton-wool and walk around with a stack-hat on my head, but I don’t want to do that. And I don’t expect the cat to do that either. I am a dirty that whomever did this didn’t stop. I was home all day. If I had hit a cat and the cat had run off – I would knock on doors and attempt to alert the owners. That’s just the way I was brought up.

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The time she went missing and I letterboxed the neighbourhood

Meanwhile I managed to get in touch with Dee and told her to cab it to UQ. After she arrived we said goodbye to Sash while she was in the ER section. The vet showed us another strikingly similar cat – just with extra hair – that was in another cage. We managed to LOL.

THE BILL

The delicate question of how much money her treatment would cost was then raised. It was $800-$1000 and that was just for the weekend stay. The bill for her surgery, ultrasounds and whatever else awaits. To be honest I didn’t really care. I consider myself “rich”. I don’t earn anywhere near a 6 figure salary, but I am so lucky to have an income that means I have a decent bit left over after all the bills are paid.

Back at home I googled what I could about feline hip injuries and there wasn’t much information. It remains a mystery just what her rehabilitation will mean. I joked to Dee that she might need one of those “cones”. I hope she doesn’t but it will be a tiny bit funny if she does.

At 12:30am I was woken by a call from the vet asking me if I would authorise an (expensive) ultrasound. At the beginning I was barely lucid, but I got my shit together eventually and worked out what was being said. “It’s cool – do whatever you need to do,” I replied.

VISIT

In the morning we phoned and got an update and were told we could visit whenever we wanted. At about 3pm we rocked up and a lovely lady led us in. Sasha’s cage-door had her drip attached and one of those serious-looking heart/blood pressure monitors. Sasha stood up as best she could when the door opened and she looked happy. She was purring. The vet explained she was “hepped-up on goof-balls” – not her words, but you get the picture. Both front legs were shaved, she had a drip in one leg and her belly and underneath her neck was shaved (no doubt for the ultrasounds). Her food bowl looked like she had eaten some of it.

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She was a tiny bit spooked by the dogs in the other cages and seemed to get a bit angry that we weren’t there to take her home. Eventually she sat down towards the back of the cage and looked almost comfortable.

The vet said she had a tiny bit of internal bleeding, but rest and self-healing might sort that out. It looks like she will be OK. Just not sure when “OK” will be.

Surgery on her hip gets done on Monday and after that — I don’t know.

Zoe – 6 years old, who lives next door – made Sasha a card. IMPOSSIBLY CUTE. Thanks Zo.

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Music!

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Air – “Seven Stars”

Air has made an album to accompany a 100+ year old movie. I was really excited about this – seeing as Air’s “Virgin Suicides” is in my top 10 albums of all time. But I have to admit – apart from this song – the album is a bit bland. This song is, however, compelling. The undercurrent drums, and the SWAY of the chords and vox. This way and that way.

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Old school track! “LACHLAN” By Your Wedding Night.

Wow – this track has a groove, and it has spunk. Like literally.

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So this is POND – a Tame Impala side-project. This song has a swagger, not taking itself quite seriously – something I fucking love. It’s not psychedelica – it’s just good rock n roll.

New SPIRITUALIZED. (And wow, this needs to be seen.)

We are all familiar with Spiritualized, right?

They are an awesome band from the UK and they have made another epic song – something they are quite profoundly good at – and an incredible video by a first rate director. NSFW – but so worth seeing.

http://youtu.be/9U_EqgBWnmc

And if you are new to Spiritualized: this is the first song I heard of theirs: “Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOL1291ryKM

And this gem: “Don’t just do something”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HrnQbiS780

10 photos (not quite in 1 day)

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The front doors actually open. This was the first time since we moved in, two years ago, that I opened them up. They do make a difference, but it’s such a pain to free them from locks and furniture!

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This is my desk at work. My trusty coal-fired iMac from 2007. As you can see I am rendering a PDF for a recent job. There is a lot of detail here I should explain. There’s my little desk fan – does wonders to cool me down after riding in, or just walking to the shops on particularly hot days. My sunglasses, the unfinished stubby on the shelf – I figured not finishing a stubby and leaving it there was proof I was a responsible drinker. The “GOLDEN STUBBIIE” next to it might conflict with that notion. The “golden stubbie” is awarded to those who get a bit too “excited” at work functions. I guess I deserve this honour.

The Tardis USB hub is awesome. You can see my silly (but very practical) goob-hat behind. The calendars I designed.

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Everyday I get a playlist ready and power-walk into the city over the Victoria Bridge to get my lunch. It’s good to be in the city, but the talent of people who walk in the city is woeful. They spring out of shops expecting they have the right of way, they walk slow and all over the path, they don’t pay ANY attention to keep left rules. It is anarchy.

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Fire-drill at the top of the mall

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Dee is studying again and it has made a bit of a big deal to both our lives. Dee is constantly “working” or goin to Uni and I have spent a great deal of time at UQ waiting to pick her up after lectures. We talk about her subjects and her assignment and sometimes it seems like I am back at Uni too.

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That big tree in the background is impossibly tall. It is a gum and it SWINGS! In heavy wind it makes this amazingly important sound and moves not like a drunken, but like it knows what it is doing. The way it sways – it is hypnotic. I watch it in these moments from the front deck and it just stuns me.Image

This is how, when I almost swallowed a Daddy-Long_legs-Spider. It was hiding in a wine glass. I drank a bit, felt this wirey stuff in my mouth and pulled this little fella out. EW! I still drank the rest of the wine. I am sure I have swallowed worse just on a regular bike ride.

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Gecko party!

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Dee is explaining something to me over our kitchen table.

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This is the oldest book I have owned – personally. I think I got it in year 4 – one of those book-club books we could barely afford in those days. I studied it religiously. It is utterly meaningful to me and it is pretty cool, STILL. I’ll publish some pages later.